• Commentaries

    M e t a  P h o t o g r a p h s — “Before the best of Gordon’s work, we realize exactly the meaning of John Berger’s remark. A casual glance won’t do. But sit and really look at his picture of a huge photo of a mostly naked woman, hanging in a marbled lobby, which a male passer-by (barely glimpsed by us) is staring at, and you realize that not only is the thing superbly designed while keeping the surprise of a snapshot, but that the woman’s coy expression of delight is being menaced by a shadow that gives the image both its essential shaping and its psychological drama. And as Berger said, the more you look at such a picture the more mysterious it becomes. There is a tug of suspense, of strange intimacy made public, of sex breaking into the most austerely chaste space which Gordon has caught perfectly.   —David Elliott in the Chicago Sun-Times

    “I like your book very much Meta Photographs. The images stay in my mind, mysterious. Somehow the past and the questions with it. The book: it’s like walking along a rope, you can’t go wrong.”   —Robert Frank in a 1979 letter

    Richard Gordon has used the camera, a Leica, to make a book about contemporary photography that is a timely and valuable contribution to the medium. Meta Photographs is a book of photographs fully felt, seen, and constructed as a related series. The montage that results is a function of systematically produced relations between the images.The possibility and potential for this kind of photography is implicit in the medium which, as Walker Evans pointed up by word and deed, is the most literary of the visual arts. —Alex Sweetman from the Afterword, 1978

    C o u n t i n g  T h e  H o u s e Richard Gordon’s photographs “need to be looked at again and again. In an age in which glitter is all that’s needed to pass for gold, Gordon works at a disadvantage. The impact of his photographs can’t really be felt without thinking about them. Gordon’s photographs have always been attractive and incomplete on first view they grab the eye and then leave the mind in something like mid-sentence. Some critics might see this as a flaw. For me it has always been their transcendent virtue. His pictures require re-viewing before they can engage the passions. These photographs carry something like an implied guarantee from the photographer. If thought about, each will support thought. And improve it. In the book before you, all the pictures work together like the premises in an argument.”   —From Joel Snyder’s introduction to Counting the House

    “In effect, Gordon’s images subvert the hidden ideological agenda of mainstream photojournalism. Gordon’s images are often saved from the easy characterization and the pat solution by his attention and sensitivity to faces. Gordon is at his best when the ambiguities are active and the frames are filled to the corners with questions rather than answers, causing the viewer to think, rather than to accept or reject.” —David Levi Strauss in “Artweek”

    O n e  M o r e  f o r  t h e  R o a d — Still photography has its own versions of road movies and buddy pictures, but few of the latter have made it into book form.There’s very little that documents and commemorates those inspirational allegances, but I like to think that One More For The Road not only speaks specifically to one such friendship but represents many others. An affectionate tribute to his alter ego, Kenny Raider, this album traces their deep sense of connectedness from late 60s college days in Chicago to Raider’s funeral. The portrait he gives us is of a man who lived enthusiastically and was much loved. —A.D. Coleman in “Photography in New York”

    Yet this is more than photographic interest, this is a book of a friendship, personal yet universal, a friendship that clearly was a deeply felt relationship that is clear to all us human beings. Here’s to the “inexhaustible pleasure” of friendship. —Judith Hoffberg in “Umbrella”

    One More for the Road is the kind of book where you sit down and thumb through the pages. It is old-fashioned in the best sense of the word, a kind of picaresque narrative.There is something very satisfying about seeing a body of work that spans a long period of time. There is a sense of solidity about it, an enduring quality. These images are personal, yet ordinary in way that gives them a clarity of authenticity. —Sabina Lanier in “Photo Metro”